A former Dane County sheriff’s deputy has changed his plea to guilty, but not legally responsible in the murders of his wife and sister-in-law.
40-year-old Andrew Steele had previously entered a plea of not guilty be reason of insanity in the case. He’s accused of killing his wife, 39-year-old Ashlee Steele, and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol of Lake Elmo, Minnesota last August. The change in plea now means a trial that’s scheduled to start on April 13 with focus on Steele’s mental state at the time of the murders.
Steele had resigned from the sheriff’s department prior to the shootings, after being diagnosed with ALS. His attorneys are expected to argue at trial that the disease and medication he was taking for treatment affected his cognitive functions and impulse control.
Madison Defense Attorney Steve Eisenberg, who is not connected with the case, says this type of plea could allow Steele to be committed instead of sent to prison. That would allow him to eventually petition for release, if he can prove he’s no longer a danger to others.
Officers responded to Steele’s Fitchburg home on the afternoon of August 22, after a 911 call reporting someone with a gunshot wound in the basement. Initial officers on the scene found Tollefsbol inside the basement door covered with blood. She was later transported to a Madison hospital with a gunshot wound to the back, where she was pronounced dead.
The Dane County Sheriff’s tactical team was called in to enter the residence, where police found Andrew Steele inside a laundry room with a lit portable grill next to him. Ashlee Steele’s body was found on a bed, with a gunshot wound to the head and a black zip tie around her neck.
WIBA contributed to this report.